Thursday, March 10, 2011

Jesus and Nicodemus: Shocking Revelation

Here was Nicodemus’ next shocker,
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life. (John 3:16)
Pharisees despised all Gentiles, and held a very low view of most Jews. In fact the only people Pharisees really respected was each other. But God loves not just Jews, children of the promise. God loves the world, Gentiles included.

In fact, think about it. --> Everyone starts out in life as spiritually dead. But God sees the awfulness of sin. His wrath is poised to cleanse all of creation from sin, and He wants to rescue people because He loves people.

The rescue was going to be costly. It cost God pain, separation, being beaten and mocked, descent into darkness when the Lord Jesus, God the Son, was made sin for us in our place. It cost death. And He did all that so that people would not be corrupted by sin anymore, which would end in death, but could be cleaned, healed and have eternal life.

Have” is immediate. Eternal life doesn’t just describe the duration, forever, but the quality of life, having the same spiritual life as God Himself.

The next verse gives you and me crucial insight into how we should be approaching people with the good news about Jesus
God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:17)
The Pharisees were expecting the Messiah to come as judge, to condemn all evildoers (the Gentiles and bad Jews) and destroy them, and restore Israel to its full glory.

How many people see God as mean and distant judge, never satisfied, not approachable? One of the main criticisms nonChristians have about Christians is judgmentalism, this constant sense of being disapproved of by Christians, being uncomfortable in church settings because of this pressure to look and act a certain way.

This isn’t God’s way at all. His way is love and compassion and understanding. Jesus did not come to condemn, or to point His finger at people and tell them what terrible sinners they are. Instead Jesus’ way with even blatant sinners was always sensing their hurt and their need, and their shame and loneliness.

This doesn’t mean that the Lord Jesus was indifferent to sin. He knows we can’t be free until the sin issue has been solved in our lives. Jesus came to free us from the bondage of sin.

This is God’s gift, given in love, but His gift still requires a response
Whoever believes in him isn’t judged; whoever doesn’t believe in him is already judged, because they don’t believe in the name of God’s only Son.(John 3:18)
The Bible takes the position that humankind is living under the wrath of God all the time. He sees the evil that mars His creation and destroys the people He loves, and God intends to get rid of it. God’s wrath consumes evil and wickedness not as the opposite of His love, but as the expression of His love. God will protect and set free the object of His affection.

It’s not people God seeks to destroy but the sin that destroys His people. In that sense God’s wrath is far more a cure than it is a punishment. It’s primary purpose is not to hurt us but to heal us.

But that’s not to say that God’s wrath doesn’t ultimately consume people as well. His wrath has been described as a refiner’s fire that purifies. But sometimes God’s presence also brought the end to people’s lives when He was dealing with their sin. God’s wrath, as it consumes sin will also consume people who have become so ensared by sin that they are no longer interested in reaching out to God’s mercy.

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